Tornadoes, the most violent natural hazard, are rotating, funnel-shaped clouds that form out of thunderstorms. Strong winds are the most destructive aspect, with gusts reaching as high as 300 mph. The damage path can be a mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornado season is generally March through August, but they can occur anytime of the year. Tornadoes most often occur at the tail end of a thunderstorm.
Eighty percent of tornadoes occur between noon and midnight. While some areas are more prone to tornadoes than others, they can occur anywhere, so it is in your best interest to be prepared.
How to Prepare For a Tornado
- Be informed and know tornado terminology:
- Tornado Watch—A tornado is possible. Stay tuned to the radio or TV for more information and further instructions.
- Tornado Warning—A tornado has been spotted. Take shelter immediately.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for the following danger signs:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Make a written plan. Identify a place in your home to take shelter in case of a tornado:
- A storm shelter or basement provides the best protection.
- Otherwise, choose an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Build an emergency kit.
What to Do If There Is a Tornado
- Take shelter immediately in a designated room.
- If you are outside, watch for flying debris; find shelter immediately in a basement or sturdy building.
- If you cannot walk or run to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and drive to the nearest shelter.
- If flying debris hits your vehicle, pull over and park, stay in your vehicle with the seatbelt on, put your head down below the windows, and cover with your hands or other protection. Do NOT try to drive through a tornado.
- If you see an area in the landscape outside where you can safely get your whole body lower than the level of the roadway, exit your vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head.
- Do NOT get under an overpass or bridge.
- You are the best judge of your circumstances. Make the safest choice possible.
- Stay tuned to radio or TV for information and instructions as they become available.
- Stay in shelter until the tornado has passed.
- Once you are in a safe place, muster with your command if you are military or civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
What to Do After a Tornado
- Stay clear of downed power lines.
- Stay out of damaged areas.
- Stay tuned to radio or TV for further information or instructions.
- Inspect your home for damage, but be careful of unseen damage.
- After a declared emergency, register your needs with the Navy through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) at https://navyfamily.navy.mil or call 1-877-414-5358 or 1-866-297-1971 (TDD).
Where to Find Additional Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/
- Department of Homeland Security (Ready.gov) & FEMA—www.ready.gov/tornadoes